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22 June 2009


grilled corn

Saturday night, Danny was up late with a teething baby, walking the hallway and singing. So, of course, he put a head of fresh spring garlic into the oven. (like you do.) By the time she was ready to curl up to sleep again, the garlic had grown soft as stewed prunes. He put her down, then pulled the baking tray out of the oven and left it out to cool. When he crawled back into bed, I lifted my head and sniffed the sweet, pungent smell of roasted garlic.

And then went back to sleep.

In the morning, he kneaded the garlic into soft butter, squeezed a lemon, stirred a smattering of smoked paprika, and seasoned with salt and pepper. Into the refrigerator.

We spent the morning reminiscing, looking at the present I made for him — pictures from the last 11 months — while Little Bean bounced on the balls of her feet between us, reaching up to pat the window. We teared up, talking about this year, the most dramatic, laughter-filled, action-packed year of our lives.

A din of voices, laughing and clambering over each other, talking fast and telling stories. The entire family gathered at our house, to celebrate. At one point, my father sat on the rocking chair, his knees filled with grandchildren, his arms around them both. His smile could have lit the island.

As we ate, however, there was silence. Contented, chewing silence. Danny loves several sounds, deeply. The sound of Little Bean chattering in the morning. The startle of thunder rumbling over our house. And the silence people make when they eat his food.

We had a feast: a big bowl of coleslaw; potato salad with homemade mayonnaise and fresh dill; a green salad made with lettuce from my brother's garden; salmon on the grill, brushed with Danny's barbeque sauce (recipe in my book). But best of all, corn on the cob, with a bowl of the roasted garlic/smoked paprika butter on the side.

Little Bean smells the meals before us and demands to eat too. So I fed her first, of course. But while she ate, I kept thinking about that corn. The corn he had grilled in their husks, a few kernels tinged with black, the rest softened and waiting.

I remembered the corn on the cob I ate as a kid, around another table with my parents, the little plastic holders shaped like corn stabbed into the ends. Then, we ate corn on the cob with margarine and iodized salt. And I loved that corn. Craved it. Every summer.

By the time I finally had the chance to eat, I reached first for the cobs. The taste of the corn I imagined while I gazed at it on the table paled in comparison to the thing itself. How would you describe the taste of good corn on the cob? I find I can't quite do it today. Sweet. Entangled in the teeth. Robust. Ephemeral. They don't quite cut it, do they?

Somehow, that corn tasted like the perfect way to celebrate Father's Day, the first one for my husband and Little Bean's papa, the darling man who makes the food on his day because he insists, because that's his favorite way to celebrate — feeding the rest of us.

And you? What did you eat for Fathers' Day? And how are you going to eat corn this summer?


At 5:40 PM, Anonymous Andrea from NC said...

Ah Shauna, you've hit on one of my favorite memories of my father. He used to ask my Mom if the water was boiling yet and THEN he'd go pick the corn. I recently got some almost as fresh at the farmers mkt and savored the tender sweetness. No butter required! Thought of my Dad all the while :)

At 5:40 PM, Blogger Caroline said...

I am lucky enough to live on a collective farm with a 3.5 acre organic garden. One of my favorite things to do is to sneak in, barefoot, amongst the tall stalks, find a good and ripe ear, and eat it right there.

Gotta be careful though; if the head gardener spots me, i'll be in trouble!

At 6:02 PM, Blogger Laura said...

I love to cut the kernels, boil them for 2 minutes and mix them with ripe hairloom tomatoes and purple basil, dressing everything with a little olive oil and balsamic.

At 6:16 PM, Anonymous April said...

Last week I made a fresh corn salad (recipe from Cooking Light) and it is the first time I have ever eaten uncooked corn. Now I am hooked! It is 3 cups of fresh corn, 3/4c light sour cream, 1 1/2 tsp worchershire sauce, 1 tsp seasoned salt, 1c chopped red pepper, 2 chopped green onions. Mix the sour cream, worchershire sauce and seasoned salt in a large bowl. Add the corn, red pepper and green onion. Stir well and chill for at least 2 hours.
It is a great cool, refreshing salad and you don't have to cook!

At 6:28 PM, Blogger Allison the Meep said...

YES! That corn looks just perfect. We went to our local farmer's market recently and bought some roasted corn from a vendor, smothered it with butter, salt and paprika and went nutty on it. All over our faces. Picking our teeth the entire way home. We didn't care a bit that we looked like crazy hillbillies with our butter faces and corn teeth. Ha!

At 6:30 PM, Blogger Amy Green said...

Father's Day - my dad passed away 2 1/2 years ago; my husband's dad isn't in his life. We don't have children so the holiday was off of my radar until late last night. I remembered, looked teary-eyed at my husband, and he lovingly touched my arm. We shared a few tears and then counted the abundance of blessings in our life today. My dad was in agriculture and how he loved corn. I grew up going into the fields with him and picking fresh corn...I'd forgotten until I read your post. Thank you.

At 6:51 PM, Anonymous abbiebabble said...

What a beautiful post!
Corn always reminds me of my mother, a woman who would happily eat six ears at a time, and call it dinner.
I think I'm going to have to get some, soon.

At 7:13 PM, Blogger Angelina said...

My family thoroughly enjoys personalizing the process of eating corn. My oldest son eats it neatly, in columns, nibbling each kernel all the way around before moving forward. Dad eats his in rows. The two year old eats in a wild frenzy with flaz oil flying in all directions and I take a bite here and there until it is all gone. When I was young, I visited my God-mothers farm and would eat the field corn raw from the stalk, while playing games of superheroes with my two brothers. AAAAHHHH, summertime memories.

At 7:21 PM, Blogger gfe--gluten free easily said...

We had corn on the cob, too. We cooked it the old-fashioned away. Steamed in a pot and just served with butter. Plus a Porterhouse steak (great new recipe) and steamed artichokes. A wonderful meal.

When we camp at out mtn property, we always cook our corn buried in the coals of our fire (with our baked potatoes). We leave husks on, but remove silk, and dip in water, then wrap in foil. The flavor can't be beat--the corn becomes super sweet.

Happy Father's Day to the Chef! Glad you all had such a wonderful time.


At 7:27 PM, Blogger Jeanne said...

Oh, so lovely. Happy Father's Day to Danny! And many more to come!

At 7:31 PM, Blogger Gloria said...

I love reading your post, it's as if I can hear your voice.

Every year we gather with my in-laws, niece, nephews, grandparents, great-grandparents, friends and we all bring a dish or two. I made a shrimp salad with roasted red pepers, garlic, olive oil, fresh lemon.....and so forth and Tom made Kugal and little did the family know that it was gluten free! Each time we heard someone say how they loved the kugal Tom and I would exchange smiles. Tom's mom is 93 looked at me and said "my goodness I getting old" and his Dad said "yes, I am the younger one" we all laughed!
It rained here in Massachusetts so we where indoors but just the same we enjoyed ourselves and one anothers company just the same.
We too will grill our corn well if it ever stops raining!

At 7:31 PM, Blogger Zoomie said...

Corn isn't ready here, yet, so we had freshly picked artichokes with white truffle butter (yes, it's incredible) and filet mignon to celebrate My Beloved whose two daughters were out of the country on vacation. They called, however, all the way from France and sang "Happy Father's Day" to the familiar tune of "Happy Birthday." He was tickled pink.

At 7:31 PM, Blogger Becks said...

I had some really tasty corn last summer at The Slanted Door - it was sauteed in butter with mushrooms. It was AMAZING! It's one of my favorite ways to eat it now.

At 8:51 PM, Blogger Aersi said...

I spent Fathers Day calling my Da and then spending over an hour on the phone with him trading stories, then messaging my big brother of how proud I am of him. (He's a single father taking care of his little girl, my niece), then went out with my boyfriend's family to honor his dad.

In a few weeks my Da is going to come out to visit. I'll make him his Father's Day meal then. Usually I get corn from one of the farmer's stands nearby and boil it on the stove. Then i foll it in my garlic butter. I think that'll be part of his dinner. :D

At 10:45 PM, Blogger Banannas said...

mmm...elotes. definitely missed.

i moved to south korea, and while corn is easy to find, it's not the same juicy-sweet goodness that i grew up eating.

At 3:28 AM, Blogger sweetpea said...

No fathers day for me - he just too homophobic. But that corn! I love real corn, so much so that I husk remove from the cob and freeze about 100 ears at the end of August. I can't bring myself to store canned/frozen corn! This year I might try canning fresh corn as I now have a pressure canner. Grilled corn is the best. And thunder, well it is one of my favorite sounds as wll.

At 5:55 AM, Anonymous Christine S. said...


Your corn looks beautiful and I am going to make that butter for the next time I eat it.

Usually though, since my family is from Maryland, we steam our corn in the husk with our crabs. The vinegar and old bay weasel their way between the kernals and the taste is unbelievable.

Nothing says summer to me like crabs, corn, and iced tea eaten on the back deck.

Thanks for another great post. :)

At 6:32 AM, Blogger Swiss said...

I love your blog.

At 6:52 AM, Blogger Mel in Mo said...

The First summer I lived in Missouri my husband & I sneaked into a field of corn & filled a paper bag. We went home & boiled it & I ate 13 ears with no butter or salt! It was perfection! Now we grow our own!

At 8:24 AM, Anonymous Sho said...

Am I wrong, but is corn a miraculous vegetable? What other vegetable can be ground into flour and meal and used for baking and cooking in addition to being served as a vegetable; what other vegetable looks so beautiful in fields as we travel throughout our land; what other vegetable can be dried and popped into a delicious treat???? (I am not too happy about corn being used for ethanol in gasoline, so let's forget that one.)

Even though I say all that, I still do not know the proper technique for peeling fresh ears of corn. I can't get all the "string" off, so I buy frozen corn on the cob.

For Father's Day, we went out for brunch to an Irish pub/restaurant in Alexandria, Virginia, right near the Potomac River. And we made our own Father's Day cards on huge pieces of foam core (poster-sized paper on styrofoam, so it stays firm) from the dollar store. My 88-year-old father was so happy when his huge Father's-Day postcard came in the mail. Yes, I actually mailed that big thing as a postcard, (priority mail for $4.95.) We also save huge pieces of cardboard for postcards/greeting cards. If you fold certain ones in half, you can mail it in a manilla evelope, and it makes the recipient so happy to get a special card!

Sorry to get so "Martha Stewart" on your site, but you are making me hungry with all your devine posts! I have to get my mind off food somehow!


At 8:27 AM, Blogger Heather Pelczar said...

i stood in the kitchen doorway, watching him feed her and thought to myself, "I have the best one. Life is rich." Then we had pan seared filet mignon, fresh corn (is this a trend?) and home made, roasted garlic mashed potatoes. All the while listening to one of his favorite sounds, the chatter of his daughter as she ate.

At 8:38 AM, Anonymous Julie said...

I meant to make strawberry-rhubarb blintzes with mascarpone for fathers' day, but instead we rushed out the door with coffee to set up an event.

As for corn this summer - I love it scraped off the cob and charred a bit in my cast iron skillet with some butter, garlic and olive oil; the leftovers stirred into black beans and red peppers and dressed with a cumin-lime vinaigrette.

At 8:50 AM, Blogger Megan said...

Most of the conventional corn today isn't as good as I remember when I was a child and I think there is a good reason for that. But not to go off on a tangent about GE vs organic farming.

Our corn this year is coming from our CSA box. The corn will be very fresh picked, it will be organic, and it will be local but best of all it will be delivered straight to my door.

At 9:28 AM, Anonymous La Niña said...

My favorite memory of corn on the cob is when I couldn't eat it as a child because I was missing my two front teeth. That was a terrible summer!

The best way to eat it is straight in the field, raw! Nothing is sweeter. Aside from the usual fresh, steamed, on the cob, with butter, salt and smoked paprika, the other favorite way is: cut off the cob and sautéed with fresh shallots, chanterelles or morels, salt, and a bit of World Spice's chipotle chili powder.

Father's Day is difficult for me, being a stepmom, and having a father who basically disappeared when I was eleven. Dad is still alive, but not the Webster's dictionary definition of father.

I sent him John Updike's new (last) book, "Tears of My Father" and a hand-made card. Seemed appropriate.

At 1:04 PM, Blogger MsJess said...

Roasted garlic is one of my family's go to condiments for (sorry) bread, especially my dad's homemade bread. Also good on all kinds of starchy things and over cheese.

Anyways father's day this year had me making potato salad with carrots and pickle relish, baked beans and shaker style corn pudding (and my love hate relationship with corn was in full force as I tried to scrape the kernals off 8 ears of corn.) We ate this with country style ribs cooked by my stepfather in law.

Next BBQ I am sticking with roasted corn.

At 7:05 AM, Blogger Runaground said...

My childhood summers were spent in the corn belt -- southern illinois. I have so many memories tied to that golden sweetness that I can't even begin to pick one. It's still my favorite food in the whole wide world, though....

I've eaten corn on the cob, plain and raw, creamed, boiled, grilled, sauteed, buried under coals in foil, and smothered in butter. But my very favorite way?

Cut a lime wedge and run tiny serrations down the wedge with a sharp knife. Rub the wedge over the corn til it drips with the juice. The citrusy zing of the lime bonding with the warm sweetness of the corn make your tongue sing.

Try it!

At 1:37 PM, Blogger Cher said...

Elotes. Now & forever, this street food owns my summer-loving heart.

But we celebrated my husband with a roasted turkey drenched in citrus & bay), a red quinoa stuffing and homemade cherry-ginger cobbler.

At 5:38 PM, Blogger Cate Manning said...

Had my Dad and stepmother come for dinner. Was planning to do some risotto to go with steaks, but time was ticking, and I decided to use the leftover short grain brown rice in the fridge in a new way. Stirred in an egg, high quality olive oil, sauteed garlic and sweet onion, fresh basil from the garden, and a bunch of shredded asiago cheese, and S & P. Mixed it and shaped it into little logs on a cookie sheet - baked at 425 until they were brown and crisped on top. Absolutely delicious experiment. Forget risotto! Actually, no, can't do that. Beautiful salad of fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, purple onion, avocado and goat feta. Topped the meal with lemon cake with whipped cream and fresh strawberries. Happy Papa.

At 5:27 PM, Blogger Larissa said...

We really, really love corn around here. I am growing it this year too, adding a whole new level to how much I love corn.

Something I learned to make last summer to use the garden glorious excess of summer squash and corn is calabacitas y mais con leche. like the recipe on this link except use lots of fresh corn of course, roasted fresh chiles, and sharp cheddar or a fresh mexican queso blanco.


(for father's day this year we were not able to cook due to unusual circumstance, and actually dined out, but we were happy because there were gluten free meringues. mm.)

At 7:07 PM, Blogger k80 said...

I like corn salad, with fresh tomatoes and green onions and bacon and a little mayo and red onion...
When I was a little girl, my stepmother would make this with canned shoepeg corn. I loved it.

At 8:08 PM, Blogger The Leithead Family said...

I made my butter like this today. Yum. I've been sampling the butter all afternoon.

At 9:20 AM, Blogger MamaFeelgood said...

LOVE the pyrex.


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